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LEADAg students keen to get working after program wraps up for 2023

The final week of the 2023 LEADAg initiative has finished, and students say they are keen to embark on the next step of their journeys in agriculture.

Twelve students were chosen from 136 applicants to participate in this year’s program which delivered hands-on, practical experiences on farms across central and western Queensland to begin their transition into the workforce.

LEADAg has been developed by CHRRUP, a community-owned, central Queensland based profit-for-purpose organisation dedicated to creating thriving, connected rural communities and it’s the second year the program has been run.

The program was delivered in three, one-week blocks spread throughout the year. The first week was held in and around the Emerald area and covered farm safety and first aid, an introduction to irrigated cropping management and science, small motors and tours of the Fairbairn Dam and Costa farm.

The second block was delivered in the Longreach region and focused on small animal production, which included an introduction to mustering sheep and woolshed operations. There were also sessions on AgTech, biosecurity, horsemanship and mental health and wellbeing in rural areas.

The most recent and final week was delivered in the Clermont and Emerald areas. Students got hands on experiences of large livestock production including how to utilise working dogs and the finer points of fencing and pasture management. They were also taken on tours of the Emerald Saleyards and Van Dyke Feedlot.

LEADAg participant Bonnie Berry says it was the perfect finale to the LEADAg experience.

“I feel even more excited to get involved in the ag industry when I finish school, now that I have completed LEADAg,” she said.

“I thought I had a pretty good idea of what career I wanted to pursue but I have learned about many more opportunities and pathways I could take.”

“I also feel very grateful to the mentors who gave up their time to work with us, I found learning about each of their careers really inspiring, I am hoping I will be able to work with some of them one day.”

2023 project lead Meg Tate said the project had been a success for the second year running.

“Once again, we have seen a fantastic group of young people thrive and grow during the experience. I’m sure they will find their place within the ag industries after participating in LEADAg and they will be an asset to any employer,” she said.

“We have endeavoured to give them a little taste of many facets of what agriculture has to offer, they have seen everything from irrigated cropping to small and large animal production. It has been interesting to see how their personal impressions of certain industries or jobs has changed. Some students started LEADAg sure they wanted to work with cattle, only to be surprised by how interested they became in agronomy and cropping.”

“While they still have lots to learn, we believe the program has opened their eyes to the opportunities offered by agriculture and has bedded down some important foundational knowledge around farm safety, first aid and rural mental health.”

Mrs Tate said the program would not have been possible without the support of local farmers and businesses.

“The communities of Emerald, Longreach and Clermont have been fantastic, and we hope offering skilling in and around these towns brings students back to them. We have seen participants from last years’ LEADAg returning to the places they visited during their program in search of more work experience and even permanent jobs and we hope to see that happening again.”

LEADAg 2023 was funded by the Queensland Agricultural Workforce Network, an initiative of the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries and has been delivered with the support of project partners including The Local Buying Foundation and Southern Queensland and Northern New South Wales (SQNNSW) Innovation Hub.


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